Posted on: January 13, 2022 Posted by: Kim Muncie Comments: 0

Zuniga possesses a uniquely qualified affinity for world-building. Needless to say, part of the fun of The Elder Scrolls – Zaneta’s Chronicles: Part One: Vvardenfell isn’t just its strong and potent story, but the way it completely envelopes you three hundred-and-sixty degrees within its environments. In this regard, Zuniga’s smarts also pertain to contemporary references, including politics and a mysterious epidemic that is on the brink of overwhelming various societies.

The book does a wise job of embracing its more escapist elements, but with a decidedly dark, grounded outlook. It almost feels like a referential amalgam of The Dark Crystal, Batman Begins, and Eragon. But with pinches and flashes of decidedly adult material, falling more within the lines of genre classics a la His Dark Materials, A Song of Fire and Ice, and even aspects of Lord of the Rings to boot. It’s something that would appeal to hardcore fantasy nerds, but isn’t in of itself nerd material. There’s something poetic and soulful, with just the right amount of guilty pleasures, keeping Vvardenfell firmly in lane. Solid fantasy, but with nuance and heart…

An excellent example of the aforementioned trait Zuniga has for world-building is a passage from the opening of the book. Simultaneously it introduces us to our main characters, while widening the proverbial scope considerably. “Scale back to the streets and buildings of Balmora, and the location is set. Although (Zaneta Dreyga) worked in the city as a smith, her homestead lay to the south…

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08D7Z2W1G/

Across the vastly different lands of Vvardenfell, unique races carried out their daily traditions and tasks, just as they would any other day.” Through this marriage of character and world development, Vvardenfell never lags or hits any sort of aspect ratio snags common even in the masterworks. It remains wholly crisp, clear, and easy to digest. Because of this, Zuniga can then just have fun introducing more characters, more complex and high-stakes situations, and more aspects of the plot drawing distinct and emotional reactions in the reader. Zuniga possesses the Joss Whedon ingredient of keeping the audience on their toes. The darker elements of the read never threaten to overwhelm, but safety is not guaranteed.

Any great writer recognizes even within a traditionalist framework the element of surprise is crucial. Zuniga remains in top form here, almost as effective as his world-building ability. You fear for Zaneta Dreyga, her plight stays with you regardless of the Avatar scapes she moves through. There’s a feeling Zuniga genuinely loves his characters, and with that love comes a lingering on the small things. Magnified details, tics, and character arcs not mandatory for an entertaining read falling within the science fiction, fantasy subcategories. Yet Zuniga goes all out, within the perimeters he has set for himself. As a result, the read is wholesome, enjoyable, and frankly I couldn’t put it down…

Alexander Marais

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